A casino, or gambling establishment, is a place where people can gamble and play games of chance. Modern casinos are like a cross between an amusement park and a hotel; they offer entertainment, shopping and restaurants in addition to slot machines, blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other card games. While a variety of attractions draw people to casinos, games of chance are what make them profitable.
In a casino, patrons gamble with money that is provided by the casino in exchange for a percentage of their winnings. While some games have an element of skill, most are pure chance and provide a house advantage that cannot be overcome. This advantage, which is mathematically determined and expressed as a negative expected value, is called the house edge.
Because large amounts of money are handled inside a casino, security is a primary concern. Many casinos employ cameras to monitor activities. In addition, the patterns of behavior of gamblers at the tables and slots follow predictable routines that security personnel can recognize. In some cases, they can spot cheating and theft based on the smallest of clues, such as a croupier ignoring an obvious hand signal from the player or a dealer noticing an unusual pattern in the betting patterns of a particular table.
In the past, mobster involvement was common in casinos, but real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets bought out the mobsters to make sure their casinos could operate without Mafia interference. Still, something about gambling seems to encourage people to cheat and steal, either in collusion with others or by themselves.